Tag Archive for GIS

My MOOC Map Final

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I have spent the last few weeks enjoying my experience of my very first MOOC, Maps and the Geospatial Revolution, from Coursera.  Dr. Anthony Robinson of Penn State University was an AWESOME MOOC professor. I can’t believe how engaged he and his team stayed when interacting with over 40,000 students. 40,000 students. That’s staggering. He kept the lectures short and directly to the point, while adding some humor along the way.

At the end of this MOOC, I am not a GIS expert at all, but I developed a definite appreciation for GIS and cartography. I enjoyed working with ArcGIS Online and plan to make more test maps.

During the course of the MOOC, we saw a map about food deserts in the city of Detroit where low-income residents did not have supermarkets within a small radius of their homes. So, for my final project, I decided to look at Farmers Markets in Philadelphia versus household income and proximity to public transit.

Link to Final Map

I started with an ESRI streets map of Philadelphia and added the layer PhillyMunicipal Boundary by ldafner_PhillyRO. I then added a layer of demographic data by zip code (Demographic Summary by ZipCodeFS by rajphilly) and used a gradient categorical color to segment the data using natural breaks to show the number of inhabitants living below the poverty line in 2013. Using the most excellent open data site Open Data Philly, I obtained a shape file for farmers markets in Philadelphia in existence as of February 2013 and added that data to the map, changing the point symbols to reflect a “green (as in ecological)” theme. From the same site I obtained zipped text files that map the stops for SEPTA bus (bus, subway and trolley) and regional rail trains.  I added these points to the map and changed the point symbols to reflect bus stops and train stations.

By zooming in and turning on and off the map layers, viewers can see how farmers markets are (or are not) serving lower-income neighborhoods. Both the Food Trust and Farm to City are making great efforts to create farmers markets in Philadelphia, and many are housed or planned right next to SEPTA stations (SEPTA even highlights its own SEPTA map of farmers markets for riders). So I think the plan is working to help alleviate food deserts. What do you think?

Map global. Eat local. 🙂

I definitely plan to take more MOOCS in the future when I have some more free time to dedicate to it. I hope that my next classes might be in Human Computer Interaction or some other computation class.

My first MOOC

For the first time, I am enrolled in a Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC. I am taking Maps and the Geospatial Revolution with Dr. Anthony Robinson from Penn State University on Coursera.org.  (#maprevolution on twitter)

I took 2/3 of my classes online for my MSLIS at the Drexel University iSchool, so I am very familiar with online classes, and especially those on a tight time frame, such as the 10 week Drexel quarters. This class is 5 weeks, which I think is doable, even for a busy time for me like the summer.

So far it’s my very first day in my very first MOOC. This professor offers both typed and streaming video lectures, which I appreciate because I really learn better by both reading and listening. The lectures are short, which fit my attention span in the heat of the summer evening hours after work.

To begin, we are looking at the incredible pace of change in the use of geospatial data for navigation, decision-making, and storytelling.

The professor asked everyone to add a point on a digital map to represent our location, and I was surprised to find 3 other people in my immediate neighborhood taking the very same MOOC! I live in a large city, but I was still surprised by that result.

I’m taking this class primarily for four reasons:

  1. To figure out what all this MOOC fuss is about
  2. To get some more structured and guided experience with GIS tools since I may have to work more with them in the future, if my employer expands its support for Digital Humanities projects
  3. To see if any of these GIS tools might be applied to subjects I am interested in, such as linguistics (mapping language change over time)
  4. Most of all, to do something cool and different

I’ll post my progress weekly, so that I can get used to being more public about my professional endeavors.

See you around the MOOC’s.